There's nothing quite as cheerful as a garden full of blooms. Beautiful to look at and also good for pollinators, the summer flower garden is a riot of color and life. With a bit of planning, you can have blooms from early summer straight through until the first fall frost, just by choosing a few plants from each of the lists below.
Early Summer Flowers
These early bloomers are always a welcome sight. While some fade with the heat of midsummer and will need to be replaced with something else, others, like salvia and snapdragon, will re-bloom as long as you remove the spent flowers.
Poppies are old-fashioned, cottage garden favorites that self-sow easily so even though they're annual, you'll likely see them popping up in your garden year after year. They bloom from late spring through early summer in shades of orange, red, pink, white, yellow, and purple. They do die back, so you'll have to plant something else in their place once they fade after blooming.
Penstemon is a drought-tolerant perennial that blooms in colorful spikes that grow from nine inches to a whopping five feet tall, depending on variety. In addition to a wide range of heights, penstemon is available in many colors including white, yellow, purple, pink, and red.
These ornamental members of the onion family are grown from bulbs planted in fall, and bloom in late spring and early summer. The large, spherical flowers bloom on stalks that grow up to around three feet tall depending on variety, and in shades of pink, purple, and white.
Columbines are hardy perennials that bloom well in full sun to part shade. They grow to 12 to 18 inches tall and offer a wide variety of bloom colors, including pink, red, yellow, white, and blue. Often, the blooms are bi-colored, with the central petals being one color and the outer ones, known as "spurs," another.
Delphinium is another old-fashioned garden favorite. Its spikes of blue, purple, pink, or white flowers bloom on stems that grow from eight inches to up to six feet tall depending on variety. While technically a perennial, it's a bit finicky and doesn't always come back reliably, so they're often treated as annuals.
Whether you're growing the "bearded" Dutch irises or the smaller, faster-spreading Siberian iris, irises are a wonderful addition to the late spring and early summer garden. They're grown from rhizomes, and will bloom year after year in nearly any color you can imagine.
If you're looking for an early summer flower for your shade garden, consider astilbe. It has an almost feathery look to the flowers, which vary in shades of white, peach, pink, red, and purple.
The bright, sunny blooms of coreopsis start showing up in early summer and, if you deadhead regularly, it'll keep blooming straight through until fall.
When most people think of daylilies, they likely think of the bright orange ones known as "ditch lilies" or of orangey-yellow ones often seen in the parking lots of stores and shopping malls. But daylilies come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. Some are re-blooming varieties, which will bloom from early summer straight through until frost, and others put on one large flush of blooms and then call it quits for the season. Either way, there's a daylily that will work beautifully in your garden.
Cleome, also called spider flowers, often take a while to get going in the garden, but once they do, they offer both airy, graceful-looking flowers in shades of pink, white, and violet. They bloom from early summer through frost if you keep them deadheaded, and they attract butterflies as well.
Also known as sages, there are scores of these hummingbird-attracting flowers to choose from, many of which bloom repeatedly throughout the summer months, starting in early summer and going right through until frost, especially if you deadhead them.
- Mexican bush sage - This is a 4 foot by 4 foot sun-loving perennial with purple spires that is almost indestructible, which survives gracefully in drought and poor soil.
- Cleveland's sage - Growing 2 to 3 feet tall and 4 to 6 feet wide, this sprawling perennial has whorls of purplish white flowers that appear again and again on its wispy stems, along with richly fragrant foliage.
- Red annual salvia - This is a small bedding annual plant with crimson red blooms that typically grows about 12 inches tall; cut off the flower stalks as they fade and it will bloom over and over as long as the weather is hot.
Snapdragons are annuals that are easy to start from seed and bloom from early to mid summer. They often stop blooming during the hottest part of summer, but will usually put on another flush of blooms in late summer when temperatures cool down a bit. They grow anywhere from eight inches to four feet tall, and you can find them in nearly any color, including bi-colored varieties.
Also known by the common names "Pinks" or "Sweet William," dianthus is a very fragrant plant that can be grown as an annual or perennial depending on your hardiness zone and the variety. These low-growing early summer flowers are perfect for full sun and bloom in shades of pink, white, salmon, and red.
This cottage garden favorite is notable for its soft, pastel shaded blooms. It grows from one to four feet tall and self-seeds readily. For lots of early summer blooms, sow the seed directly in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked.
Often, early summer flowers are still blooming into mid-summer, and when they're joined by these heat-loving flowers, your garden will be full of color and fragrance.
An annual species that is best enjoyed on a moonlit summer's eve, nicotiana is a tall, rambling plant that is covered in 3-inch white or yellow flowers, with a thin tubular shape that serve as a fountain of nectar for hummingbirds by day.
These perennials, with their white, yellow, or peachy-orange colored blossoms start blooming in mid-summer and will go straight through until frost and even beyond. They also make absolutely wonderful dried flowers for wreaths and everlasting arrangements.
Star Gazer Lilies
Blooming in mid- to late summer, these Oriental perennial lilies have knock your socks off perfume and make a long-lasting cut flower, as well. There are numerous white, yellow, pink and spotted varieties to choose from, but be sure to pamper them with the best soil, perfect drainage and ample moisture, as they can be quite finicky to grow.
Also known as "blanket flower," gaillardia has cheerful daisy-like, red, yellow, and orange multi-colored blooms. Once it starts blooming, it won't stop until frost as long as you deadhead regularly.
There are various shrubby daturas, but the annual variety is incredibly easy to grow in the heat of summer. Also called angel's trumpet, the flowers are long, tubular and extremely showy, resembling some sort of ornate 17th century instrument. They are typically pure white and are most fragrant at night.
When you think of a standard white-petaled daisy with a yellow center, you're likely thinking of Shasta daisies. These perennials put on a flush of bloom in early to mid-summer and grow well in full sun to partial shade. Pinch plants back in early spring to encourage bushy, rather than leggy, growth. If you deadhead, you can extend their bloom time by several weeks.
Foxgloves, with their pretty bell-shaped blossoms that often rise tall above the rest of the garden, are another old-fashioned flower. They're grown as biennials or short-lived perennials; you'll have to replant every year or two to ensure that you always have some in your garden. Foxgloves bloom in nearly every color except for very dark shades.
Fuchsia are classic warm weather shade plants, grown as perennials in warm climates and annuals elsewhere. The flowers dangle upside down and look like an intricate costume from some far away land. Their drooping habit makes them a good candidate for hanging baskets, but they can also be staked up to grow in the ground.
The flower stalks on this wonderfully fragrant herb garden favorite appear in early summer and last for four to six weeks. A second and third round of blooming follows the first, which you can help by dead-heading, the practice of trimming off the spent flowers.
Hailing from dry rocky Mediterranean hillsides, lavender likes full sun and little to no supplemental water or fertilizer, making it one of the easiest summer perennial flowers to grow.
These sturdy native perennials, and the more recent hybridized introductions, are a wonderful addition to a full sun summer flower garden. Traditionally, coneflowers bloom in light purplish-pink and white, but you can now find them in shades of red, orange, yellow, and even green. They bloom from midsummer through frost, and if you have wild finches in your area, the finches will be drawn to them - the seeds of coneflowers are among their favorites.
Dahlias are grown from tubers, and in colder zones, must be dug up every year before frost, and then replanted in spring after the soil warms. It's a bit of extra work, but so very worth it. Some varieties of dahlias, known as "dinner plate dahlias," have flowers nearly a foot in diameter, though you can find smaller varieties as well. And you can find dahlias in solid colors and bicolors of nearly any shade you can imagine.
Another carefree summer flower for full sun, asters are shaped like a sunburst and typically purple, though they can also be found in pink or white. Butterflies flock to aster, so you'll also get to enjoy their beauty as well if you plant this tough but gorgeous perennial.
Black Eyed Susan
Black Eyed Susans, also known as Rudbeckia, are daisy-shaped flowers with dark brown or black centers and yellow petals. Some varieties grow quite large, while others are more compact. Black Eyed Susans do best in full sun, but will also grow well in partial shade, and will bloom for weeks at a time from early through late summer, and even into early autumn.
Late Summer Flowers
People often think of late summer as a time when the garden starts winding down, but the fact is that there are plenty of late summer flowers that really just hit their stride in the hottest part of summer. The flowers listed below will keep your garden full of color, plus if you've been deadheading the flowers that bloomed earlier in the summer, your garden will reward you with a riot of blooms straight through until frost.
Mallow blooms in pinks, whites, and soft purple shades and grows anywhere from eight inches to four feet tall depending on variety. It blooms late summer through autumn, and self-seeds readily. Give mallow a spot with full sun to part shade. Pruning the plant back a bit in late spring will give it a bushier shape and more blooms, though it will delay blooming by a couple of weeks.
Russian sage isn't a member of the sage family at all, but it does have light bluish-purple blooms that are reminiscent of salvia blooms. This hardy, drought-tolerant perennial grows best in full sun, and will reward you year after year with delicate spikes of its tiny flowers. The blooms are irresistible to bees and butterflies as well.
In many ways, sunflowers are the quintessential late summer flower. They're cheery enough for summer, but have that hint of fall to them that provides a nice bridge between the seasons. And you can find a sunflower for your garden, no matter how large or small your space is, and in a wide variety of colors and shapes.
Amaranth is another of those late summer flowers that, like sunflowers, also works well into autumn. The blooming part of amaranth will eventually become seed heads, which birds love. Until that point, though, their feathery, soft blooms in shades of red, pink, and yellow add a graceful element to the late summer flower garden.
These are very tropical-looking perennial plants with 1 to 2 foot long thick, glossy leaves and flowers that come in almost every color of the rainbow. The stalks grow from tuberous roots each spring and take all summer long to reach their full height of anywhere from 4 to 6 feet before blooming.
Mums, as they're so affectionately called, take a while to get to the flowering stage, but they put on a bold display once it arrives. This usually occurs in August or September and lasts well into fall. Mums are compact, low-growing perennials that become completely covered in button-like flowers and are available in an astonishing array of colors.
Joe Pye Weed
A native of eastern North America, Joe Pye Weed is another very tall flowering perennial-with stalks up to 9 feet-that takes all summer to reach its glory. When it does, the tips of the plant erupt in dinner plate-sized domes of purple flowers for the butterflies to feast on until cool weather comes.
Also called aconite, this tall, slender perennial blooms in late summer with flowers of the deepest purple. Keep in mind that all parts are poisonous, so it is not the best choice for gardens where pets or small children are present. Monkshood likes deep rich soil, dappled sunlight and regular moisture.
Flowers That Bloom All Summer
Some flowers come and go in a few short weeks, but choose from these varieties for reliable season-long blooms.
Petunias are gorgeous as an edging to a bed or grown in containers, where they can sprawl and trail as they wish. You can find petunias in just about every color, and modern cultivars don't even need to be deadheaded to keep blooming.
These cheery flowers attract butterflies and bees, and bloom from early summer straight through to frost. Just remove spent blooms regularly.
Often seen in shades of bright orange and yellow, these pungent-smelling annuals are commonly grown to deter garden pests. But they can be beautiful as well as useful. You can find marigolds in varying shades of yellow and orange, and there are even creamy white marigolds now that look gorgeous in bouquets or in the garden. Deadhead regularly to keep them blooming from early summer until frost.
These shade annuals grow well in beds, pots, or hanging baskets, and you can find them in pastel colors as well as red and white. They bloom from late spring or early summer straight through until frost, and don't need deadheading.
The tiny white flowers of sweet alyssum are pretty edging a garden bed or the edge of a container. They reseed easily, so if you enjoy them, let them go to seed and you'll have them in your garden for years to come. They bloom from early summer until frost.
These old-fashioned annuals with their feathery foliage grow to about three feet tall and rebloom all season long, as long as you keep them deadheaded. You can find cosmos in a wide variety of colors, including pink, white, maroon, red, orange, and even bi-colors.
There are hundreds of begonia varieties, but the one thing they have in common is a tolerance for shady conditions. Though many are perennial plants, in practice most are grown as annuals.
Use them as bedding plants, in hanging baskets or as colorful accents in a shady perennial border. Flower color is all over the map, so you'll have no trouble finding something that fits with your color scheme and many varieties also have colored foliage, making them stand out even more in the shade garden.
The scent of geranium leaves is a sign of summer for some gardeners, and the appearance of these ubiquitous annuals with their cheerful blooms just seems to scream "summer." Geranium flowers come in many colors including white, red, salmon, pink, orange and purple. Just remove the stems of faded flowers to be rewarded with another flush of blooms.
Summer Flower Fun
While summer is a season of boldly-colored flowers, keep in mind that spring is the best time to plant them. Let them get their roots established while the weather is cool and they will reward you in summer with robust growth and a fireworks display of color.